There’s an app for that, but is it secure & flexible enough for your org?

Just a decade ago, the term “knowledge worker” denoted only a small contingent of employees within most organizations. Over the years, as more areas of business have utilized information systems, more and more users entered this information stream, learning to leverage new sources of information to make their work more informed and relevant.

In 2013, knowledge workers constituted as much as 82 percent of the workforce. Equipped with modern productivity tools, they create, gather and manage a wealth of business information in your organization.

But as far back as 2010, an article in the Harvard Business Review noted that, “Perhaps the greatest lesson from Japanese auto manufacturers is that all employees are knowledge workers and that the role of the firm is to both encourage and support problem-solving by all employees.”

That was seven years ago.

You need to manage ever-growing content

Today, our armies of knowledge workers are changing our perception of how enterprise software should be developed and delivered.

Faced with managing the ever-growing variety and volume of content – ranging from office documents to video and images – users struggle to find internal tools that are up to the task and fit their work styles. They seek a work experience equivalent to the one they have with content that is immediately available to them outside of work – social, connected environments where their content is available across a wide range of devices, social networks and applications.

The quick and easy solution seems to be to do what they would do outside of work – find a third-party app or service that can get the job done.

Thanks in large part to the availability and maturity of third-party cloud services, bring your own device (BYOD) has evolved in many organizations into do-it-yourself IT (DIY IT), with users relying on a fleet of external devices and applications to manage work-related emails, tasks and files. In fact, the trend has moved beyond individual users to entire departments and business groups. The most recent study of cloud services adoption found that 61 percent of business units completely bypass the IT department and select, purchase and manage cloud services on their own.

DIY leads to information silos

Having been through many enterprise software-purchasing cycles, I can absolutely empathize with the business group managers who choose to go the DIY IT route – after all, the typical enterprise software purchasing experience is anything but quick and easy. The rounds of RFPs, vendor interviews and demos require the involvement of stakeholders from across the organization, including IT, operations and procurement. The selection process alone can stretch to several months, and the subsequent budget approvals, deployment and integration likely last several more.

I don’t know many department managers who would say they can wait half a year to fill today’s technology needs.

So, the appeal of these readily available cloud apps is easy to understand – they are cheap (or even free), quick to set up and they provide an instant fix to the daily content workflow needs. Many of these apps are, however, not designed with the enterprise in mind.

As a result, this DIY approach exposes the organization to significant risks:

  • Security and compliance

Taking confidential business and customer data outside the corporate firewall demands stringent security and compliance considerations. When access to business data is given to consumer-grade devices and services, protection, governance and e-discovery become an even more difficult task, especially when IT is not in the loop.

  • Integration and extensibility

Business information creates the most value when it is available in the context of core business processes. Without the ability to integrate with business systems and workflows, the less sophisticated cloud apps actually compound the enterprise content problem, creating information silos.

Designed to provide consumer-grade, one-size-fits-all service, most of these cloud apps do not provide the frameworks for integration or development of solutions that fit your business processes.

  • Business continuity

Existing outside the corporate authentication and identity management protocols, consumer cloud apps create an additional challenge when employees leave the company. The ad-hoc processes they had created to fit the cloud app into their business workflows will likely be lost, leaving the business with a void.

The success of cloud apps highlights the evolving demands of the modern knowledge workers who rely on flexible and portable productivity tools with ubiquitous access to information that matters to them. However, the lack of enterprise-grade features in many cloud apps creates more challenges than they solve.

With the volume of business information growing, this problem is not going to just go away, as more and more users and departments seek solutions that will help them manage this sea of Big Content. To meet the requirements of both the users and the enterprise, a company should consider leveraging a unified enterprise information platform as part of its IT strategy.

The benefits of enterprise solutions

Supporting the deployment of apps or solutions at departmental levels and the ability to integrate with existing core systems, an enterprise information platform also offers additional benefits across the enterprise:

  • Relevance and context

An enterprise information platform enables tightly integrated solutions that are aware of each other and business processes. Relevant business information can be made accessible from enterprise devices and applications, adding instant value to your business processes by helping your knowledge workers work faster and smarter.

  • Security and compliance

Whether on-premises or in the cloud, an enterprise-class platform provides strict security protocols and minimizes compliance risks to sensitive business information.

  • Any content, anywhere

A modern information platform must manage and make available all unstructured content in the organization, from office documents to videos and multimedia, regardless of where they reside or where the user is located.

  • Consistent user experience

Leveraging integration with enterprise applications as well as a uniform client interface framework, the platform provides knowledge workers with a consistent user experience across devices and systems.

  • Agile platform for growth

Emphasis on modularity, integration and extensibility translates to flexible solutions that fit business needs and faster time to value.

While stand-alone cloud apps or point solutions may be great for doing one or two things, an enterprise information platform proves that the whole can truly be larger than the sum of its parts, providing real business value today and capacity to meet future needs. Whether on-premises or in the cloud, look for a platform that will allow you to integrate with secure, cloud-based apps designed for the enterprise, which will minimize information silos.

Your company’s ability to derive value from business information is becoming a major competitive factor, directly contributing to business intelligence, process improvement and customer experience management. But to do so, you need to build your systems on the right foundation.

Dennis Chepurnov

Dennis Chepurnov

Dennis is an enterprise technology evangelist with over 15 years' experience in helping organizations improve business processes through better information management. In his current role as the Sr. Manager of Product Marketing at Hyland Software, Dennis helps connect information and process management technologies with the needs of customers across a broad range of industries. Prior to joining Hyland, Dennis led marketing for a global systems integration firm, helping enterprise customers select and deploy ECM, BI, and collaboration solutions. For several years, Dennis led the Kansas City Cloud Computing User Group and also founded and managed the Kansas City CIO Summit.

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